creating your own identity
Who am I?
This question plagued me intensely throughout high school, & the journey to answering that question continued through college. “You must be your own before you can be another’s” (Ralph Waldo Emerson). Others can’t know me if I don’t even know myself. What defines a person? What descriptive aspects define the being of Kristin Windsor? My quest became so intense I began to write a book about it. Titled Known, it held chapters of my life tales, & the point of it all was to define myself—to become known, first to myself & then to others.
Ultimately it was impossible to define myself with raw realness because I was restricted by the expectations, opinions, & beliefs of others. They dominated my mind & I was ill-equipped to battle the pressure to fit into their mold. Life came to a point where I was destroying myself by trying to please others. I was always disappointed & others rarely gave a second thought to abandoning me once they were satisfied with using me.
In tenth grade I was taught a quote that I shall never forget: Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.” I realized it was within my power to vanquish my wounds & overcome the pain I harbored within. No one has influence over me unless I allow them to influence me. Though unable to control what life throws at me, I am fully responsible for how I respond to it all.
“Life isn’t about finding yourself; life is about creating yourself” (George Bernard Shaw). Beginning college also began my quest to create myself, to define myself above & beyond how other people viewed me. No longer do I live within the boundaries others attempt to establish for me, the standards set by society. I create my own path. This is my journey & I am finally taking charge of it.
I moved to Colorado directly out of high school, leaving home resolved to define myself for who I truly am & what I truly want in life, rather than catering to the standards others attempted to establish in my life. To symbolize this resolution I got my first tattoo: “Alis Volat Propiis” means “she flies by her own wings” in Latin. Dandelions branch out from the phrase & transform into small butterfly silhouettes. Slowly, these butterflies develop, spreading their wings as they grow in dominating size, intricate detail, & beautiful colours.
“When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been… But she had wings” (Dean Jackson). Those around me along my journey weren’t always fond of my transformation. Once I defined myself beyond their expectations & desires, they had less interest in associating with me. Though heart wrenching at first, I realized how it drastically & beautifully freed me. When I truly don’t care about what anyone thinks, I reach a dangerously awesome level of freedom.
peace as my priority
Throughout my struggles with mental illness over the past eight years, I’ve learned that the most effective & healthy tool to combat life’s battles is unshakable inner peace. Above all virtues known to man, peace has always held the great significance & relevance in my life, the most glorious way to overcome the threats of my sick mind. When I’ve felt most lost, alone & afraid, it was not thrilling joy, overwhelming love, or gentle strength that conquered my demons; it was peace. Peace has been the key to surviving many things throughout life, & I am grateful for the moments of true peace I experience.
Shortly after getting my first tattoo, I decided to continue displaying my identity through body art. On my ankle, I have the silhouette of a dove in flight clutching a peace sign with its feet. It is a constant reminder that my first priority must entail being firmly grounded in peace. From there I can address & conquer life’s challenges.